Sonar Ruler, as it’s name might imply, is an app that allows you to measure distances using “sonar” pings. It works similar to how bats find their way around – by making little clicks and listening for the echoes that return. Sonar Ruler takes into account such stuff as the air temperate (since the speed of sound varies) and lets you pick the units (inches, feet, meters). It even lets you edit some of the sonar settings, if you’re into that sort of thing. And it has a built in ‘level’ meter, using the accelerometer (what ruler would be complete without it?). In terms of presentation, Sonar Ruler gets an A+ – the interface looks super cool and it even has a little tutorial movie you can view the first time you run the application (recommended viewing). The sonar view, which I can only assume is the impulse response of the sound, takes up most of the UI, as it should since it looks awesome. You can zoom in and out using gestures and scroll it naturally. My only fault with the UI is that the buttons are a bit thin and the first slider on the ‘custom settings’ page was really hard to click for some reason.
So, how does Sonar Ruler stack up as an actual ruler? I ran a few tests in my house, pointing it at walls (it’s recommended that you use it against large flat surfaces). Measurements came up pretty close when checked with a real ruler – usually only off by an inch or two. It’s hard to say whether this is due to my own human error with the tape measure. The major downside of Sonar Ruler is even mentioned in the tutorial vid – they recommend that you atleast have a general idea how far away the thing you are measuring is. If I knew that, I wouldn’t be measuring it :) The reason for this is that regular sound has the annoying habit of bouncing around and you may be picking up pings from other objects than the one you are trying to measure. Ideally this app would use Ultrasound, which is more directional. Alas, the iPhone speaker is not quite that advanced ;) Another drawback is that this app can’t measure if there is too much background noise going on, so you’d probably be out of luck in a noisy environment.
But lets be honest, we don’t really want this app because it’s an accurate ruler. We want it so we can turn to our friend and say ‘Hey, I bet I could tell you how far away that car is USING THE POWER OF SOUND!!’, and for that this app delivers. Science geeks will love it.
* Sonic distance measurement up to 60 feet
* Set Units to feet, inches, or meters
* Custom saved settings for measuring in different environments
Developer:Â Laan Labs
Posted on: 17/08/2009
Posted in: iPhone